Larry's Refreshed 1974 Falcon

by Igor Shteynbuk
My collection of eight vintage bikes is almost entirely made up of those bought 50 years ago or so by me, or by friends or, in one case, a friend’s father. This Falcon is one of those, bought new by a childhood friend in late 1974; 43 years later he transitioned to a modern carbon-fiber road bike and, having no use for the Falcon, passed it along to me. 
Having plenty of “ten speed road bikes” already, I decided to try something different; perhaps influenced by the 1949 film “A Boy, a Girl and a Bike”, I thought I’d replicate at least my take on a classic British fast tourer. Once complete, then, the only original parts remaining were the Nervar crank arms and Campagnolo side-pull brakes. The first step was having the tired, old brown paint removed and then powder-coated in red in Baltimore, MD along with all-new decals from a source in Australia. Instead of derailleurs, I found a mail-order shop willing to lace up an eight-speed internal-geared hub (Shimano Nexus) to a 700C rim, and I sent them an old Campagnolo track hub to make a matching front wheel. Those hubs are normally controlled by a shifter on the handlebars but, I was able, with lots of advice, to adapt a Microshift handlebar shifter to mate with a modern downtube mount.  The long open run of cable resulted in the odd, reversed, cable attachment to the hub as seen in the photos. A 50-tooth “T-A” chainring happens to fit the Nervar cranks and gives a gear range similar to a period ten-speed arrangement. I think the “honey” colorred Brooks B15 saddle and brown handlebar tape compliments the paint scheme nicely, as do the cream-sidewall Continental tires, 28mm in width.
Igor and his team at Velo Orange helped provide, as usual, many of the various parts to help me put these old bicycles back on the road. In this case, from VO came the headset and bottom bracket (I tend to use theirs whenever possible), all cabling, the seat post and they offer the best chainring bolts for the 50.4bcd size crank arm I have yet seen.
The result is a comfortable, smooth-riding bike and, with the first “indexed” shifting that I have owned, easy to ride. Due in no small part to the 4LB rear hub, however, the Falcon is a bit heavy at about 25LB despite Reynolds 531 double-butted tubing. Yes, I’d had the bike in a paceline with local clubs, but I wouldn’t recommend it, especially at my age; this bike is more suited to somewhat more casual, but still spirited, rides.

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